Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One day trip to Třebíč

July 5th and 6th were Czech holidays, and we decided to rent a car again and do a couple of short trips around Brno. Our destination was Třebíč, but typical of my hubby, we took a detour and ended up driving through the middle of nowhere land again, which I have to say we enjoyed pretty much :-)  You would be amazed to all the little villages with rather gorgeous houses here and there.

Anyway, Třebíč is a small town located west of Brno. This little town started to grow when the Duke of Moravia built a Benedictine monastery back in the 12th century. And, it became one of the most important cities in South Moravia after St. Procopius' Basilica, which is listed as one of the UNESCO's World Heritage sites, was rebuilt in the 13th century. 

This town is also famous for the old Jewish Quarter, and used to be the most important Jewish settlement in Moravia region. In the mid 19th century, many of the rich Jews left for Vienna and other big cities, and there were only 281 Jews left at the time of WWII, all of whom were taken to Auschwitz (only 10 of them survived). 

The quarter spreads along the north bank of the Jihlava River and up the side of a hill.  It has a lot of character with narrow and winding cobblestone streets.  If you go up to the top of the hill, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Jewish quarter.

Unfortunately, I heard there is no more Jewish community there. In fact, at some point, there was a plan to destroy the quarter and build a new fancy town with modern buildings. However, the plan was cancelled as they found out the nature of soil there was not particularly suited for the high-tower buildings. Luckily the quarter was saved, and during the years 1995-1999, the town invested 40 million CZK to build a technical infrastructure (like electricity, sewage, etc), and it was then designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the Basilica in 2003.  Since then, people have been moving back into the quarter.

Two synagogues (old and new) still exist, and the new one is being used for community concerts as well as a museum where you can learn about the history of the Jewish quarter.

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